Our first trip was on September 2, the weekend after Katrina hit. We bought 3,900 bottles of water and drove it to the National Guard in Slidell, Louisiana, so that they could use helicopters to get the water to people trapped on rooftops in New Orleans. Florence Antique Mall owner Mike Detzel was accompanied by Dave Yeazell of Erlanger, Kentucky on this trip.
Our second trip was made on September 9 to deliver donated relief supplies to people in small towns near the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where the storm surge from Katrina hit. We gave supplies to people in Gulfport, Biloxi, Eagle Point, Waveland, Lakeshore and Bayside Park. All of these areas suffered massive damage and our supplies were very much needed. Florence Antique Mall owners Mike and Coleen Detzel were joined on this trip by Bill, Charlie, and Terry Bradley of Warsaw, Kentucky.
Our third trip was made on September 16 to deliver another full van of donated relief supplies, and we again went to people in small towns near the Mississippi Gulf Coast, because we knew from our trip last week how much help they needed. We started in Pearlington, Mississippi, and once more ended up in Lakeshore and Bayside Park. It's been three weeks since Katrina hit, and in these areas it still looks like it happened yesterday. The spirit and character of the people who live in these areas is simply amazing - they never complain despite the terrible damage to their homes and entire communities. We wish this had never happened, but we also feel fortunate to have met so many good people on these trips. Mike Detzel was joined this time by Jay Ratcliff of Florence, Kentucky.
Our fourth trip was supposed to happen the next weekend, September 23, but we had to cancel at the last minute because hurricane Rita hit the Gulf Coast again. This storm hit farther west, from around middle Louisiana on into Texas. We decided to take our next load of donated supplies to the eastern edge of where Rita hit in Louisiana - this was about 175 miles farther than we had been driving. On September 30 we delivered supplies to people in Erath, Delcambre, and Henry, Louisiana - all had suffered substantial flooding. Yes, in one of the pictures that is a house you see pushed into the road - the power of these storms is incredible. Putting gas in the Florence Antique Mall van is Guy Stephenson of Ludlow, Kentucky, who joined Mike Detzel on this trip.
By this point we had delivered nearly 3 tons of donated relief supplies to people in need, so it took a few weeks to get enough donations to make one more trip with supplies. We left Florence with another van load and returned to the people we had previously met in Lakeshore and Bayside Park, Mississippi. These are small communities that were very hard hit, but aren't big enough to get a lot of attention, so our supplies were very welcomed here. John and Beverly Davis own a small general store, and they let us set up to give out our supplies in their parking lot until we ran out. The picture of the man and lady is them inside their store - they're both exhausted after dealing with all of this non-stop since Katrina hit. Gary Harvey of Burlington joined Mike Detzel on this trip. After running out of supplies, Mike took Gary 4 miles south from Bayside Park to the Guld Shore itself, and the last pictures show how much worse the damage was just a couple of miles closer to the shore.
Since we were no longer getting enough donations to make more trips with relief supplies, Coleen came up with the idea of organizing a campaign to get donations of Christmas Gifts to take down for the kids and families in Bayside Park. We got donations from our employees, dealers, customers, family, friends, and from people all over Northern Kentucky, Southwestern Indiana, and Greater Cincinnati. We were especially grateful to the Burlington Fire Department Boosters when they donated $2,000 for us to buy more toys with - and then they did the wrapping, too! John and Bevery Davis once again let us set up by their store. We gave out gifts non-stop for 3 hours and saw a whole lot of smiles! On this trip were Mike & Coleen Detzel, Bill, Charlie & Terry Bradley, Dave Yeazell, and Florence Antique Mall Dealer Russ Shirley from Marietta, Ohio.